You deserve another 4 years of the same crap.
One of the most frightening indications of the direction our country has taken isn't thousands of miles away in some strange country we have occupied or are about too. Its right here in the USA and it was on display in the actions of thousands of police unleashed to handle demonstrations at this years Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. Maybe we can expect journalists to be jailed and beaten in Iraq. Maybe we can read about prisoners being tortured with black hoods over their heads in Abu Ghraib. Perhabs we can know about citizens being accused of terrorist acts for helping to plan protests in Fallujah. But all of this occurred and was documented outside the Xcel center where the Republicans announced their acceptance to the general election. It is the new face of homeland security in the privatized era of neo-conservative ideals. While Sarah Palin was busy bad mouthing community service, the police were doing a disservice to the community by indiscriminately using tear gas, rubber bullets, concusion grenades and mace on a few protesters with different political ideologies and wearing black bandannas. Knocking down newspaper boxes and blocking traffic is called: civil disobedience and should be dealt with by a procedural non-violent arrests. Instead it was brutal oppression by a militarized police force who think they are fighting insurgents in Afghanistan. An abusive display of violence which harmed innocent bystanders, accredited journalists and anyone who got in the way of a law enforcement and national guard rampage gone wild.
Now why did bikeblog report so much on these conventions when this is supposed to be a blog dedicated to the bicycle? Well, I'd love to report on warm and fuzzy stories like bike sharing programs at these gatherings...but it just doesn't seem important when my fellow citizens and friends are being abused, chased, attacked, beaten and arrested. Sorry, I just can't be silent. And besides I like to follow up on things.
So here is a wrap up report from I-witness video. A dedicated group of citizens, armed with video cameras who go to demonstrations to document police activity.
Here is an overview of what the members of I-Witness Video saw and
experienced over the past week or so in St. Paul, Minnesota.
for the I-Witness Video Collective
Violence and cruel treatment directed at protesters by police;
Journalists targeted for arrest, harassment, intimidation and surveillance
Police Violence in the Streets
The members of I-Witness Video have been appalled to see a high level of
violence directed against peaceful demonstrators, medics, legal observers
and journalists at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul,
Concussion grenades, smoke bombs, CS gas (tear gas), rubber bullets and
pepper spray were used to attack and herd demonstrators.
In particular, pepper spray was used excessively and indiscriminately to
torment and punish demonstrators in a manner that violates widely accepted
law enforcement standards. In one instance a man was pepper-sprayed while
handcuffed and then punched in the kidneys. Peaceful demonstrators have
been restrained and forced to kneel on pavement for hours after being
pepper sprayed without being given medical attention. In another instance
where pepper spray was used to preemptively punish a person who was
perceived by police to be a protester, a lone street medic was entering
her car when police drove up, sprayed a small fire extinguisher sized
canister of pepper spray into her car, completely soaking her head to toe
before driving away, leaving her gasping for air and collapsing. The
medic was neither arrested nor charged.
Here is a clip showing police use of pepper spray.
CNN.com video Clip
Abuses in the Jails
The treatment of arrestees in the jails has been shockingly bad, even
grisly. Medical care has been withheld from many arrestees. In one
instance a hemophiliac was offered gauze as treatment for a wound. Elliot
Hughes, a 19-year old arrested while bicycling, was forced to wear a bag
over his head while being gagged and beaten. Hughes tells his story at a
full video here.
The punishment of arrestees did not end at the jailhouse door. In almost
every instance, the Sheriff’s Department did not return any personal
belongings to arrestees upon their release. Many, including under-age
women and girls, were put out in the cold in the middle of the night
wearing thin prison-grade shorts and a white t-shirt. Some were dropped
off as far as five miles away from the jail without their house keys, car
keys, cell phones, identification, or money. In some instances this meant
that they were not able to access critically needed medication.
Targeting of Journalists
Many journalists working during the period of the RNC experienced
obstruction, harassment and arrests. Thirty journalists were arrested
including reporters from ABC News, Fox News, and Indymedia. On September
1, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, two producers from Democracy
Now! were slammed on the pavement and against the wall, arrested and
charged with a felony riot. Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman was also
arrested and charged with interfering with a police officer. On September
4 Kouddous was arrested again, along with Democracy Now! producer Rick
Harassment of I-Witness Video
Members of I-Witness Video were visited by the FBI and a Wisconsin
sheriff, were falsely arrested without charges being filed, underwent a
search under an invalid warrant, were threatened on the street by police
officers, extensively surveiled by police officers with video cameras and
followed by undercover officers.
Two days before the convention opened, St. Paul police surrounded the
house we were staying in, effectively placing us under arrest for two
hours. When a search warrant was finally produced, it was for the wrong
When we declined to allow them to search our house under an invalid
warrant, they broke in and held us at gunpoint. We were handcuffed behind
our backs and held in the backyard while the house and our belongings were
During the same period three other member of the collective were detained
while leaving the area on bicycles and two others in a car were pulled
over and detained for four hours.
An excerpt of a video by the Glass Bead Collective shows the St. Paul
police breaking into our house and pointing guns at us:
In a sinister progression of events, police officers arrived at our office
building four days later with batons at the ready, carrying a battering
ram and alleging that we were holding people hostage in the I-Witness
Video office. A prompt response by National Lawyer’s Guild attorneys
thwarted further police action. The unfounded and absurd allegation by
police that hostages were barricaded in our office could have allowed them
to enter our office without a warrant and possibly even shoot us.
Please check our website for updates - we will continue to let you know
more about the 2008 RNC and DNC as we investigate further.
But police brutality isn't limited to just these big demonstrations, they happen all the time including at a concert last Friday, Sept. 5th in NYC.
Chris Ryan of team spider made these two videos.
see the violence and tazzering at: